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Learning Center Experience
By David Adu-Boateng DBA, CISA, CPA, Full-Time
Faculty, Kaplan University Published December 2015
Implementation of Activity-Based Costing (ABC) can
be overwhelming to managers. Some of the problems include information expansion
that overwhelmingly exceeds the capacity of databases and applications, the
difficulty of capturing complex operations, the lengthy implementation time,
and the arduous and complex task of identifying and classifying cost drivers.
The difficulties associated with implementing and maintaining ABC systems
discourages a wider adoption by companies.
ABC took center stage in the 1990s when private
organizations realized the importance of finding a better technique for
managing cost. It was widely recognized by managers that the traditional
costing approach did not accurately report product and service costs, and did
not provide an efficient way for reducing costs and optimizing profits. The
failing of traditional costing was attributed primarily to organizations having
a functional view of performance. Managers, therefore, embraced ABC as the
savior to their costing woes, as ABC enabled many companies to identify
significant cost and profit enhancement opportunities.
In spite of the challenges of implementing ABC, ABC
system is being resurrected and therefore triggers the importance of
re-evaluating the cost and benefit of its implementation. It is widely accepted
that cost-driver selection is the most debilitating problem associated with ABC
implementation. Additionally, the opportunity for cost savings is a significant
by-product of ABC implementation. It is therefore imperative to examine the
relationship between the effective selection of cost drivers and cost reduction
opportunities when implementing ABC.
The accuracy in selecting cost drivers must be
traded off against the complexity of an ABC system, and a high accuracy in
allocating overhead costs often requires a high number of cost drivers, whiles
a small number of cost drivers is desirable in achieving an information load
that is bearable in cost and ease of use. One can safely assert that cost
reduction opportunities only come with effective selection of cost drivers.
The dilemma faced by
a prospective ABC implementer who is motivated by cost reduction possibilities
is whether cost reductions would compensate for the high cost of accurately
identifying cost drivers. It is expected that companies would implement
measures that can lead to cost reduction opportunities and maximize implementation
benefits. Does your ABC implementation determine whether effective selection of
cost drivers lead to cost reduction opportunities and justify the prohibitive
process of effectively selecting cost drivers? Below provides a sample questionnaire
for optimizing the benefits from your cost driver selection.
David Adu-Boateng DBA, CISA, CPA is a faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
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